Monsters, superheroes and apes: Bring on the summer movies

It’s May and in Hollywood, that means it’s time to start rolling out the summer blockbusters.

Still from the upcoming film 'Noah' (photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
Still from the upcoming film 'Noah'
(photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
It’s May and in Hollywood, that means it’s time to start rolling out the summer blockbusters.
Hollywood has only two seasons for releasing good movies: late fall to the end of December, when the movies studio executives think have a chance at an Oscar come out, and May to midsummer, when the blockbusters and light summer fare are released. You may have noticed that the movies that come out between January and April and from August to November tend to be lousy, or at least, not very commercial: These months are Hollywood’s off-season. Good movies may be released during these months, but these are movies that the executives don’t expect to be financially successful.
What’s coming our way this summer season? Fans of superheroes, comics and other movie franchises will be the happiest, that’s for sure. And for those who enjoy discussing the movies they see on social media, there’s good news as well: Most of these blockbusters have a single global release date, meaning they will open here the same day they open in the US and the rest of the world. This is meant to cut down on pirating, but for us it has the added bonus of letting us see the movies without waiting weeks or even months.
Godzilla will be conquering our theaters starting this weekend. There have been six previous major Godzilla films (and several more in which the fire-breathing dinosauroid was one of the featured monsters). This one has gotten a lot of good buzz following preview screenings and early audiences have pronounced it much better than the embarrassingly un-scary 1998 version. It certainly has a good cast: Bryan Cranston, best known for playing Walter White on Breaking Bad, and Ken Watanabe (Inception) are nuclear scientists, and Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) and Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine) are also in the cast.
Bryan Singer is once again directing X-Men: Days of Future Past. It features Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and all the gang going back in time, and die-hard X-Men fans have been obsessing about it for months.
What would summer be without a Spider-Man movie? The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a new film featuring a rather bland Andrew Garfield, is back with an equally bland Emma Stone in the latest movie about the early adventures of the super hero.
Michael Bay, a director whose name is synonymous with exploding cars, directs the latest Transformers film, Transformers: Age of Extinction, which features Mark Wahlberg and Kelsey Grammer and opens in late June.
Mad Men fans who can’t bear to bid goodbye to Jon Hamm after this year’s half-season ends in two weeks take heart: Hamm has his first starring movie role, in the film, Million Dollar Arm. He plays a down-on-his-luck sports agent named J.B. Bernstein who finds two Indian cricket players he thinks he can turn into baseball’s next superstars. The cricket stars are played by Madhur Mittal (Slumdog Millionaire) and Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi).
Kevin Costner also stars in a sports-themed movie, Draft Day, about the general manager of a football team and the decisions he makes drafting players.
Angelina Jolie has the lead role in Maleficent, a new take on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale in which she plays the wicked fairy, and Elle Fanning is the princess.
It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to see another Tom Cruise sci-fi movie after last year’s mind-numbingly dull Oblivion, but he’s back in Edge of Tomorrow, about a military officer fighting aliens who gets caught in a time loop.
There are people who never miss a Planet of the Apes movie (you know who you are), and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is coming up. This film picks up 10 years after the last one (which starred James Franco and was pretty lame) ended and stars Andy Serkis as Caesar, the head ape. The first half of the movie is all apes, and Gary Oldman and Keri Russell play the humans who appear toward the end.
Fans of Family Guy have something to look forward to: A Million Ways to Die in the West, the period comedy/romance that stars director/writer Seth McFarlane, along with Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried and Neil Patrick Harris.
But what’s out there for people who like more thoughtful movies? Child’s Pose, a Romanian movie that has won awards all over the world, including the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, tells the story of an affluent mother and her adult son, who is accused of murder.
Actor Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient) directs and stars in The Invisible Woman, the story of Charles Dickens’ relationship with a teenage actress (Felicity Jones, who is also in The Amazing Spider-Man 2).
Love and Lemons is a romantic comedy from Sweden about love and the restaurant business.
There are also some Israeli movies among the summer releases. The big news in the Israeli film world last month was that Talya Lavie’s Zero Motivation won the top award for feature films at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Israeli audiences can look forward to seeing the movie at their local theaters on June 26.
The movie, Lavie’s feature-film debut, is a comic and dramatic look at female soldiers. It stars Nelly Tagar and Dana Ivgy.
Nadav Schirman’s documentary, The Green Prince, about the son of a prominent Hamas leader who who became an informant for Israel, won the Audience Award in the World Cinema-Documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and is opening throughout Israel this weekend.